Wednesday, February 22, 2012

in why I won't celebrate this season....

So this is a post in which I share my heart…and which could cause great offense to my readers…which is why I've never fully written it before. But as this week crawls on…and I’m bombarded by constant posts on Twitter and Facebook…my level of heartbreak…and to be honest, annoyance…greatly increases…and so therefore I’m just gonna go ahead and share…and you can agree, argue, or ignore as you please…

So when did Lent get trendy??? It seems like the last 5 years or so the number of people who are embracing and running with it has grown by leaps and bounds. It used to be just the Catholics and traditional Protestants were the only ones to participate. But now…it seems like everyone is jumping on the Lent train and participating in it.

And hear my heart in this…I’m not remotely anti- ‘giving up something for God’…I’m not anti- 40 day fasts…I’m certainly not anti- setting aside a specific time to stop and reflect on God and your relationship with Him or ponder the perfect completeness of what Jesus did on the cross. All these things are amazing…and should be embraced, often, by the Lovers of Him.

But the part that puts me over the edge…makes me groan deep within and throw my hands in the air…makes me weep in prayer…and scream out loud in frustration……is that we’re doing this, in the name of Jesus, but on pagan foundations. Which is something God told us…over and over and o-verNOT to do. “DON’T follow after the pagans…don’t do what they do, even in My name…don’t be like them…don’t adopt their practices…etc.” Yet we do, with justified stances. (He even went so far as to usually declare that the heathens be completely wiped out…because He wanted no remnant left for His people to be tempted to become like them) We either don’t research these things at all, or we research just enough to justify our own beliefs…tack on a Christian theme…and go with it. Just because it wasn’t our generation that adopted the pagan practices, and it’s what we’ve always done, it’s far too easily justified in our eyes. (although we are quick to scream out against traditions we personally don’t like, especially because Jesus addresses it so often…we just conveniently ignore the issues of the traditions we do like and want to continue holding on to) But even just a quick, basic research of how God felt about the succeeding generations, the ones who didn’t make the change, adopt, etc…just the ones that grew up in the continued pagan practices, should make things very clear as to how He feels about it. Right? So because of this…I don’t get it. I just really...don’t.

The origins of Lent have several pagan connections…but the main one is based on the Weeping of Tammuz. (Which God calls an abomination in Ezekiel 8:14-16) The story originates in Babylon. Tammuz (a false god) was killed by a wild boar when he was 40 yrs old. So, 40 days (one for every year) of weeping and mourning was declared in his honor. The worshippers would deny themselves pleasures during these 40 days. (for the sake of his pleasures in the afterlife) They would then end this with a big celebration at the end of the 40 days…including eating a wild boar. (is it, again, JUST a coincidence that our “traditional” Easter dinner is ham???? Or maybe, perhaps not? Either way...the connection is creepy.) “Lent” certainly wasn’t observed by the first century Church. It was first addressed during the Council of Nicea with Constantine. (of. course.) He mixed Paganism and Christianity in unfathomable ways, but in all honesty, it was intertwined before and certainly after him, because he opened that path wide. Christianity adopted the pagan practices and rituals again and again…and just tacked on the name of Jesus to justify doing so. (i.e., Lent is just a picture of the 40 day fast Jesus did) And it was the Council of Laodicea in 360 AD who officially declared that Lent be observed.

“Woe to those who call evil, good and good, evil.” Isaiah 5:8

And God is very clear as to what He calls evil. He called following after the heathens evil. He called the 40 days of the Weeping of Tammuz evil. He called breaking His commands (and He commands us to follow HIS celebrations) evil. Just because we add Jesus to the mix and call it good, does not make it so. In fact, He says 'Woe to those' who do...

I’ve already said in a previous post, I don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter because of its pagan roots. And I know most of you believe I’m crazy and extreme and don’t get it. But the more I look into it, the more I see scriptures, and the heart of God being very clear about it. I truly see it as a conniving work of the enemy…that got us off track *just enough* and changed the focus *just enough* to get us outside the boundary of God’s perfect plan and path He created for us and we miss the fullness that He has ordained for us.

I am NOT saying hearts that celebrate Lent aren’t pure. I know so many are. But ignorance isn’t bliss. Ignorance is dangerous. And God doesn't let us off the hook for our ignorance, unfortunately. I’ve read the beautiful blogs posts of preparing for this 40 day season… I've read my friend’s accounts of the precious revelations they received during this time…and I do not negate those things. I know they’re real. I know they connected with God during this time. My issue is with the foundation...and if our foundation is not truth (and truth means stable)…then how can we firmly stand? My issue, my heartache, in all this, especially during this season…is this missing of the mark. And we are missing the mark. 

Don’t just rely on the traditions of which you been raised in. And definitely don’t just rely on the words out of my mouth or on my blog. Research the roots. Read the words of Jesus Himself in regards to the Law and following the commandments of His Father. (from neutral, non pre-defined eyes) Read the scriptures about grace. And then read the words of God, Himself…in regards to what He wants and doesn’t want us do…in festivals, celebrations, and being like the pagans. Don’t blindly follow this new Lenten Trend. Declare your own 40 day fast…one in which you’ve spent time with God and heard His timing. Find a group of people to set aside this time with you and press in to Him together. Celebrate Him in new and fresh ways. There's no need to copy the ways of the ones who thought something else was worthy of their worship and focus. There's no need to ignore the Biblical mandates and follow after the man made ones. Don’t be so quick to embrace the things that do not have their foundation in God. And certainly don’t be quick to shun and ignore the ones He created and ordained for us. 

I hope you still love me...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sharing in the wholeness of His heart...

Something occured to me several months ago. (you know, when I had accidentally moved back to Texas) I was seeing several people from my high school days and the same theme kept coming up over and over. Whenever my teenage/early 20's self is described...I'm usually summed up in one word- Joyful. I was repeatedly told by people that I was the most joyful person they had ever met. I always loved that description. Mostly, because back then I was a hot mess of dysfunction...and I was clinging to God with everything in me for mere survival. The joy of the Lord is my strength (Neh 8:10) and Be Joyful Always (I Thess 5:16) were the life ropes in which I clung to get through my days.

But as I was being reminded of this...something deep down started gnawing at me. Because it was just that...a reminder. In other words, a description of the past. I realized people were no longer using that word for their top characterization of me...and I didn't like this. I kept wondering where I had gone wrong...because I just thought I had only grown less...obnoxious (aka- the exuberant joy I loudly and boastfully portrayed). I still felt joyful, deep down...under a layer of seriousness that I was mistaking for just stability. I am a much, MUCH more stable, functional person than I once was...and I'm definitely much closer and more intimate with my why on earth would it appear as though I've lost my joy?????

I contemplated this for several days and realized this: As I've grown closer to God...walking in that intimate embrace of sharing His heart...I realized that there is a deep seriousness that is attached to this close walk with God. As I've grown deeper in my relationship with Him, I've cried out on almost a daily basis to share what's on His heart for that moment...asking Him to break my heart for what breaks His. I have prayed those prayers countless times. And God has answered those prayers every time. And it's been an exquisite, heart wrenching, messy, beautiful dance. And when walking daily with Him, this becomes your habit and you become in tune with those things around you on a constant basis. You can walk into a place, and know what God is saying about the people and situations around share what He is saying for individuals, groups, or whole nations. And you pray what He says to pray...and you believe what He says to believe...sharing in His tears as He weeps for the injustice...shouting as you hear the roar of His promises...joining with Him in the Throne Room where He is seated, forever interceding for His beloved.

But why is it, I wonder, do we tend to think that sharing the heart of God, is always serious and somber? I think we get consumed with the issues, the problems...because we want to join with God in seeing His solution come forth. Our generation's deep cry for justice keeps our eyes and our focus on the problems that abound on this planet. But my God is a joyful God. He laughs, He sings, He spins and dances over us. I think, we forget sometimes, that sharing His heart means not only asking Him to see the issues around us like He sees them...but we need to also ask what makes Him joyful in what He sees? What is making Him belly laugh when He looks down at our world? I've prayed many times that He would make me aware of the one around me that His heart is breaking for, one that He's got locked in a protective embrace, so that I can join in prayer with Him or give an encouraging word...but I've never asked Him to show me the one He's singing and dancing around at that moment...the one He's cracking up in exuberant joy over.

This has been my prayer the last several months. In the midst of some extremely hard times going on around me...I've asked God to show me the joy once again. I'll admit...I haven't really seen it fully yet...but just in seeking this balance of His heart...I believe, has kept me from drowning under the issues that flooded around me.

So, my prayer will continue to be "Show me your heart, God. Break my heart for what breaks yours." But I shall now add..."Fill my heart with what fills yours. Show me what makes your heart joyful."
I want the whole truth of His heart...I want the balance.

(I decided to create a Joy Board on Pinterest...just for funsies and such)